I’ve completed the Pillow Project – 5 pillows are made: 4 for my living room and one for my studio. Several of the pillows I began at the recent quilting retreat I attended (see post The Pillow Project).
If you are just joining us, this post is a follow up to these five posts (as well as various other older posts as I procrastinated through some of my projects):
Yikes Tierney, it sure takes you a lot of posts to stop talking about a project? Yes, true…and? (smile).
So here are the completed pillows.
Made from recycled 2.5 inch x 2.5 inch fabric scrap squares that were turned into half-square triangles (it took 196 half-square triangles to complete!), this pillow measures approximately 22 inches x 22 inches:
Living Room Pillows
These pillows measure appropriately 23 inches x 23 inches and were made from batik fabric scraps pieced into improvisational (“log jamming”) log cabin style blocks:
Here is what the back of the pillows looks like – made with recycled quilting fabric trimmed from a quilt after long-arm quilting:
We have two sofas in the living room that face each other – I usually hang out on one and Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) hangs out on the other.
My sofa with two of the cushions:
TTQH’s sofa with the other two cushions:
Yes, we have a crazy amount of color in our house (our house is not for the bold color faint-hearted!)
To close this post, here is a random gratuitous photo of a lovely purple iris from my walk yesterday:
I still have more stories to share from he annual May quilting retreat I attended with my Quilting Sisters in Vancouver, WA May 17 – 20, 2018. I just wanted to share the follow up on the whole pillow making saga 🙂
Bear with me as I tie “Pillow Popping with the Untethered Soul” together!
Pillow Popping (What’s on the Design Wall)
I am working on my next art quilt for a future Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) exhibit but I cannot share photos on social media at this time. Unfortunately I am stalled in the progression of the piece but I want to keep myself sewing so I’ve decided to make a pillow with my collection of scraps 2.5″ x 2.5″ fabric squares.
I made a zillion (it actually seemed like a “zillion”) half-square triangles (HSTs) and Terry the Quilting Husband was nice enough to cut them apart, press and trim them (now that is true love!).
I pulled out this book from my craft book collection: Pillow Pop: 25 Quick-Sew Projects to Brighten Your Space by Heather Bostic and began laying out the pillow design per one of the patterns – Crystallized(on page 82 if you have the book).
This display made me want to eventually make all the pillows in the book!
Here it is on my small design wall (the larger design wall in the hallway has the art quilt in progress I mentioned earlier):
The beauty of a truly “scrappy” piece is you can have all sort of crazy fabrics together and somehow it works (at least in my deluded mind)!
The Untethered Soul (Audiobooks)
I’ve been listening to a wonderful audiobook I borrowed from the library, The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey. The audiobook is read by the author and features curated sections of the actual interviews with inspirational thought leaders from Oprah’s TV series Super Soul Sunday.
I listened to this book while I laid out the pieced half-square triangles for the Crystallized pillow patter and it was very meditative.
To lay out this specific pattern where you get the effect of concentric diamonds of light and dark, I really had to quiet my mind and focus. Listening to this book was the perfect medium to do just that.
In the middle of my pillow-piecing-meditation, Oprah’s interview with Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, played.
I’ve read this book twice a couple years ago and I’ve listened to the audiobook. I’ve also given it as a gift. I was surprised to learn that it is one of Oprah’s favorite books and that she has also given as a gift (to many more people than I have).
I would say it is one of those MUST READS, especially if you are on a path of self-insight and growth with how you interact with the world.
It was amazing to listen to the author Michael Singer discuss the book with Oprah as I continued my pillow-piecing-meditation.
I will close out this post with a couple quotes from this amazing book by Michael Singer:
“You have to understand that it is your attempt to get special experiences from life that makes you miss the actual experience of life.”
“The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality.”
“Your inner growth is completely dependent upon the realization that the only way to find peace and contentment is to stop thinking about yourself.”
“Billions of things are going on in this world. You can think about it all you want, but life is still going to keep on happening.”
“Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it.”
“It is truly a great cosmic paradox that one of the best teachers in all of life turns out to be death. No person or situation could ever teach you as much as death has to teach you. While someone could tell you that you are not your body, death shows you. While someone could remind you of the insignificance of the things that you cling to, death takes them all away in a second. While people can teach you that men and women of all races are equal and that there is no difference between the rich and the poor, death instantly makes us all the same.”
“That which is holding you down can become a powerful force that raises you up.”
I know you’ve been waiting…and here is the follow up to my 03/30/18 post Scrap Party! , where I had a special birthday celebration play-date with my fabric-scrap-loving friend.
It started with this plastic bin of my fabric scraps:
Dumped onto my bed (the bed has a plastic sheet from packaging material covering it):
Before we dove into this delicious (or suspicious) pile of fabrics, first we took Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) and our miniature schnauzers to Whole Foods for lunch (okay the dogs stayed in the car as it was a wee bit too cold to sit outside and eat with them).
After lunch we headed back to my house to dive into the “bed-o-scraps”!
But first we needed to fortify ourselves:
After a few minutes of frolicking in the fabric scraps, my friend pulled her initial stack and got to work on making improvisational blocks.
As a challenge, in addition to access to my crazy fabric scrap collection, I assigned my friend these pieced block discards/trimmings to try and incorporate into her improvisational blocks:
Here are a couple of her blocks laid out on the design wall in my hallway:
And here is her “to-go” bag of fabric scraps to finish up her piece at home:
Sadie passed out on the pillow in my studio due to all the fabric scrap excitement:
I did get a little blue seeing Sadie sleeping on the pillow in my studio as my beloved Sassy the Highly OpinionatedMiniature Schnauzer used to sleep like that on the pillow before she passed in December 2018. But I did enjoy having a girl mini schnauzer in the house again and so did TTQH.
Here is TTQH hanging out in the living room with Sadie and Mike while watching the College Basketball semi-finals:
So what did I work on? Well I thought I would take the opportunity to practice paper-piecing (Not the fun “English Paper Piecing” type but the “flip and stitch” type of paper-piecing that I suspect is what you have to do all day in the “Underworld” if you are bad in life and go there after you die…um, I would like to choose the “fire & brimstone” instead please…).
I signed up to participate in the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show’s 2018 Wish Upon A Card Fundraiser & FabricChallengesponsored by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I needed to make a 4′” x 6″ fabric postcard to donate to the fundraiser, incorporating the two feature fabrics provided by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
In general I love Robert Kaufman fabrics, but I was completely underwhelmed by the fabric pieces they sent me to make the postcard:
Thank goodness my friend helped me pick out some coordinating fabric scraps for my postcard.
Here was my first (actually second, as the first was a legendary-paper-piecing-screw-up disaster) attempt at paper piecing a little house for the postcard:
Here is my second (okay actually third) attempt and the final version with my embellishments:
I mailed it off yesterday to Wish Upon a Card and I will not be offended if they say they “never got it in the mail” or they accidentally let it slip into the trash can – ha!
Now I bet you are curious: Did we make a dent in the pile of fabric scraps? Not really. Here is the tub of fabric scraps cleaned up from the bed and put back into the closet after my friend left:
It appears I have enough for another Fabric Scrap Party (or 200+ Scrap Parties)!
Recently a couple of my blogging buddies, Mary at ZippyQuiltsand Claire at knitNkwilt posted about starting projects from their fabric scrap piles and “fabric scrap wrangling” (organizing a crafter’s crazy scrap pile).
As fabric scraps are my secret (well..not so secret) obsession, I want to join the conversation!
Last time I posted about my fabric scrap organization, I shared this photo of my fabric scraps organized in windowed boxes by color:
Well this organization failed. Why? Because I was not using the scraps, I was just enjoying them as “decoration” in my studio!
I knew I needed to do something and rethought how I was create with scraps I realized it was too cumbersome to pull down individual boxes by color to access scraps (my studio is small and I could only pull down 1-2 boxes at a time without serious crowding!). So I did something crazy: I pulled all the scraps out of the boxes and put them into a bag:
Yes it is a giant bag! It measures 22″ in height and approximately 22″ in diameter…and it is packed (but not too tightly…just fairly tightly, ha!). I’ve named it “Giant-Bag-O-Scraps” and I love it!
In addition to moving the fabric scraps out of their boxes by color, I also thinned out my collection of “Challenge Bags” (see post Basket of Challenges) and moved many of the scraps from these bags into the Giant-Bag-O-Scraps. I narrowed by huge “Challenge Bag” collection down to this:
I did keep one type of fabric scraps separate from the others – batik scraps. They have their own organization into three baskets under my cutting table: 1) light and medium-light colors; 2) medium-dark to dark colors; and 3) thin strips:
The reason for this separation is I want to make some landscape quilts using batik strips. I recently bought a book on Landscape quilts that I will discuss in a future post (once I start an actual landscape quilt project).
During this entire “scrap wrangling” project I did pull out a lot of scraps to donate to our local Humane Society Thrift Store. The thrift store has a crafting section and packages of fabric scraps sell very quickly there (other weird people like me who are also obsessed I guess..). Check out my post from October 2016 – A “Humane” Way to Eliminate FabricScraps to see how I packed up a huge donation of fabric scraps during my purging in 2016. The packages of scraps shown in that post sold within a week at the thrift shop!
Although I am not seeking out any additional fabric scraps, currently I am embracing my fabric scrap obsession. I remind myself that my quilting studio area is “my playroom” and it is okay to go in there and just play with my scraps!
Happy MLK Day! When the political landscape feels challenging to me as a person of color and as a woman, I remember his words and I am re-inspired:
Perhaps I should not let you in on a little secret: Occasionally one of our beloved Central Oregon quilt shops has spectacular Scrap Bags for sale for $8. I promised a couple quilting friends I would not reveal which shop (so that everyone does not suddenly get in their car or jump on a plane to rush to Central Oregon to get some of our Scrap Bags!).
A couple weeks ago, while wandering about a certain Central Oregon quilt shop with quilting friends, I found this bag of scraps for sale:
I have plenty of fabric scraps (most are from my own quilt making or were donated by friends) and normally I do not buy these bags – but it was one of those deals not to be passed up!
The bag was jammed packed with coordinated scraps, apparently from the same fabric line:
Each scrap was folded/pressed in half. I was curious how wide and long the scraps would be once opened.
Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) helped me unfold, press and organize the coordinate scrap collection. Here are the photos of MY HAUL from the $8 scrap bag:
TTQH was so patient as we sorted the scraps by color/pattern. They took up my entire cutting table and spilled onto my ironing board!
The average size scrap unfolded and pressed measured around 2.5″ x 5″:
What to do with these scraps? (By the way: Does anyone know what fabric line for these scraps? I am guessing Cotton + Steel or Tula Pink)
Well on my Kindle is a copy of Tula Pink’s 100 Modern Quilt Blocks:
I flipped through this book to get a feel for the dimensions of the pieces requires to complete the blocks for this sampler and in general they were within the dimensions of the scraps from my $8 bag. I just need a coordinating fabric to fill in when large pieces are needed.
Well I pulled out yardage of “Saffron” Peppered Cotton from my stash that I think will coordinate well with the palette of the scraps:
It could also serve as a very bold setting fabric for the blocks!
I have so many projects in queue, I am not ready to start this one (for example I still need to finish up my Farm Girl Vintage sampler!). So I sorted the scraps into color stacks and packaged up the scraps and put them away in my Project Queue!
It may be difficult to gauge by the photos but I think there are enough scraps to become a full sampler quilt with the Saffron Peppered Cotton fabric added to the pile! So it would be an $8 quilt (okay I am stretching this idea as I also paid for the Peppered Cotton but just play along, okay?)
Where did these scraps come from? My best guesses are they are either leftovers from a sampler quilt created for the quilt shop; or from cutting kits for the shop. I do not care where they came from, I am just so grateful for them!
(And thanks in advance if any of you recognize the fabric line and can share with the rest of us!)
Look at these adorable socks one of my Quilting Sisters gave me.
Hopefully the salty word in the socks does not offend anyone, if so then my sincere apologies.
This post is actually a continuation of my ongoing series “What’s on theDesign Wall”, featuring my latest project up on either the small design wall in my studio or the large design wall my hallway. It is also a follow up to my post Can We Talk About Table Runners? on the table runners I am working on.
I had the five (5), yes five (5) table runner tops that I finished on the large design wall in my hallways but I yesterday evening I started a new art quilt and took them down. Now they are all sitting on the ironing board waiting to be completed:
They all began as yardage of my collection of Ombre fabrics and my stash of pieced strips from brightly colored fabric scraps:
I have decided to quilt each one of them.
In the previous post on these table runners I discussed my challenge of how long to make them and several of you weighed in with ideas on both length and width.
The unfinished group of five table runner tops measure anyway from 17 – 19″ wide and 44″ – 53″ long. The dimensions will decrease after I quilt them and trimmed them down a bit to straighten their lines. So I think I will end up with table runners from 16″ x 42″ to 18″ x 52″ or something like that.
I just flowed with whatever length the design took me as I progressed!
I will reveal the runners in all their glory in a future post once I get some quilted!
The Natural Selection Convention
Whether you believe in Evolution, Intelligent Design, Creationism, or something else, you have likely heard the term coined by Charles Darwin – “Natural Selection”.
Dictionary.com defines it as “The process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring”.
Well last week I came across on my walk what I might call a Bird Natural Selection Convention!
First I noticed at the corner of an alley I turned into on my walk, an adorable cat sitting on a fence. Well that cat wasn’t just sitting on the fence, he was curled around a set of bird feeders!
I stopped a greeted the cat who let me take his photo (I actually took like 10 different photos to get the right shot and the kitty just stared at me while I did it). Then I completed turning the corner and here is what I found two feet from the “bird-feeder-cat” – another kitty just hanging out on the same fence:
And then, one more foot down the fence, another kitty:
This is why I am calling this a Bird Natural Selection Convention – any bird that attempts to use the bird feeder will most likely not be having any more offspring!!!
I laughed so hard at the trio of kitties waiting for very hungry and not too bright birds!
What the Heck is This?!?!?!
Have you ever been to Costco? It is a magical place I try to stay away from (see my post BreakUp Letter to My Warehouse Club). However there was something we really needed at Costco (what Tierney, an 180 count jar of olives, triple pack?) and so we went.
While strolling the aisles (okay even if you go there for just one thing, it is mandatory that while you are in Costco you stroll the aisles), Terry and I came across this:
It looked like someone had skinned a schnauzer! We do not know if it was synthetic or some poor animal but it was a very unusual pillow. It was quite soft to the touch (you could pet it for hours) but then that added to sort of a creepy feeling I got from it.
Also – how the heck would you wash it if you got a stain on it? We had quite the laugh over it (like we did in September when they had the Christmas decorations already out in Costco) but we somehow controlled ourselves and did not buy it.
(Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer would have been quite distressed if she thought we were bringing home a skinned schnauzer pillow!)
I might ramble a bit in this post, bear with me. I am trying to figure out standard lengths for table runners. I know, I know, this is a shocking and controversial topic to take on in a blog post. If you can stay awake while reading this post, I will try not to bring up too many sensitive issues about table runners, ha!
Table Runners Running Around in My Mind
Why am I thinking about table runner lengths – have I simply run out of things to think about?
Let’s back up a moment…
Recently I sold the last of my tierneycreates table runners from when I had my tierneycreates Etsy shop, to a work colleague. She remembered the table runners I had offered in my shop and wanted one. I explained I only had one left and I had laundered it as I had used it on my table. She still wanted it.
So we worked out a deal, I mailed it to her, and here is a photo of it on her table:
The photo made me smile. I love the idea of something I made being useful in someone else’s home and making them smile. This is aligned with the tierneycreates tagline of “a fusion of textiles and smiles”.
Here is the original style of table runner (quilted) I made for my Etsy shop that I could not keep in stock:
Here is one in green ombre that is not quilted that sold out in my shop also:
The one in the photo above is does not look very exciting, so you will have to just trust me that it looks better in person (and the women who bought it gave it a 5-star review on Etsy).
So this leads us back to why I am thinking about table runners lengths – because I am thinking about making up a new batch of quilted table runners (and maybe selling them on Etsy); and I am not sure what length to make them!
Do I just make up a couple in different standard lengths?!?!?
What Length, Oh What Length?
I did a lot of “googling” to try and find a guide to standard table runner lengths. I found several pages which listed info on standard table runner sizes.
What I liked about this webpage was this statement:
“A table runner should be long enough to overhang the end of your table by approximately 6 to 10 inches on each end.”
Why did this statement appeal to me? Because it means there is no way to anticipate all the different table sizes potential customers will have and that I just need to decide one standard length I will offer as well as offer a custom table size option. I am going to aim around 42″ as my standard length.
I have spent the last couple of days working on creating the strata for my scrappy table runners from a bag of Kaffe Fassett-type of fabric scraps from my collection of Challenge Bags (see post Basket of Challenges ):
I welcome your thoughts on this oh so controversial topic – table runner lengths>
If you were going to make up table runners for unknown tables, what length would you make?
One of my miniature schnauzers, Mike, was trying to take a nap with the book I was reading and I thought it was a very sweet photo:
Mondays am I off from work so last night I decided to do a “Late Night Sewing Session”. I sent Terry the Quilting Husband, Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer, and her adopted brother Mike off to bed; put on a Nova documentary on YouTube; and settled in for a late night sewing marathon.
Here is what I started with from the “challenge bag” of shot cotton scraps:
So here was the first piece I had made the other day with the scraps, experimenting with foundation piecing:
And here are the improvisational pieces I made with the rest of the scraps last night during my Late Night Sew:
Here is all I have left from the “challenge bag”:
These are fairly small scraps, so those that were larger than 2″ x 2″ I put into general circulation, by color, in my fabric scrap collection. The rest (not very many) had to unfortunately head for the landfill…sigh…can’t save them all!
So what am I going to do with the little pillows I make? Well I am thinking about participating in my first Craft Fair in late Fall 2017. My employer has an annual Holiday Craft Fair in the Portland, Oregon office. I am thinking about taking my leftover items from my former tierneycreates Etsy shop and new items I have made and selling them at the craft fair. More to come on that in the future, still mulling it over.
I think Smart Cars/mini electric cars are adorable! I enjoyed looking at them when I was in Europe years ago and I have sighted several when visiting Portland, Oregon. Yesterday on our dog walk, we came across an adorable Smart Car in one of the neighborhoods next to ours. I was so cute I wanted to put it in my pocket – ha! (They are like toy cars!)
So I will close out this post with the photo of this darling eco-vehicle:
A series of words I never thought I would write in a blog post: “Foundation Paper Piecing”.
If you are not a quilter, foundation piecing is using pre-printed paper/specialty papers to sew precise shapes using a sort of “flip and stitch” method. Foundation piecing allows you to work with tiny pieces of fabric to get precise shapes.
Yes that sounds kind of complicated and I have avoided it for years for this reason. Of course I never thought I would attempted English Paper Piecing (EPP) but as you can see from my series of posts – Adventures in English Paper Piecing– I am addicted to it.
I had one previous experience with foundation piecing and I keep it in a tiny frame in my studio.
My extremely talented quilter sister-in-law Sue attempted in the early 2000s to teach me to foundation piece while visiting us when we lived in Seattle, WA.
We made a little sailboat block:
She was a very patient teacher and I keep the framed block as a special memory of our time together working on a project. However it is now 2017 and I am returning (like 15 years later?!??!) to trying foundation paper piecing again!
As a crafter, you learn through experimentation (sometimes it feels everything I work on is an experiment, ha!) and if you don’t push yourself to take risks you will not grow as a crafter. So experiment I did and here is the story.
Foundation Paper Piecing Experimentation
A couple blog posts ago (Basket of Challenges) I wrote about my “challenge bags” – collections of coordinate scraps given to me by other crafters. Since taking them out of closed storage containers and putting them into a large basket in my studio, I am inspired to open them up and do another “challenge” (see what I can make with them).
My friend and quilting-sister Dana made me the lovely bag for my yarn/portable knitting:
The picture does not do it justice. She reverse engineered a bag she saw on Pinterest (she is a crafting-goddess) to make this bag from a collection of shot cottons.
In addition to the bag, she also gave me her scraps from making the bag:
I had them of course sitting in a “challenge bag” and decided they would be perfect for my experimentation with foundation paper piecing.
Looking through my archives of patterns of “projects-I-am-really-going-to-make-someday”, I found this pattern with pre-printed pattern paper (sort of the texture of tissue paper but stronger, like used for clothing patterns):
You can tell how dated the pattern is – how many of us read small paperback books anymore (you could convert this pattern into a cute kindle cover though)? I think I bought it in the very early 2000s. The pattern comes with enough tissue foundation paper to make twenty-four 3″ blocks.
I began with cutting a bunch of the little foundation papers from the pattern; and ironing the scraps:
The next step was to watch several foundation piecing videos I found on YouTube. My favorite, and the one that really made things click in my mind, was Paper Piecing Made Easy Tutorialby the CraftyGemini.
I decided to work on the “Square on Square” pattern, so it was time to start the experiment. I am happy to report it worked, though I struggled a little with removing the paper from the back of the piece when I was done foundation piecing:
You can see just how small this little block is in this photo, imagine trying to traditionally piece (via sewing very tiny little pieces together) this block:
I bordered it with more of the scrap shot cottons from the challenge bag:
I plan to make a little pillow out of it, like the little pillows on this post – More Creating – More Art Pillows. I plan to hand quilt it and I am trying to decide between two quilting threads, but I am leaning towards the very light and thin DMC embroidery thread in brown:
Am I going to do another one (I do have 23 more blocks I can foundation piece with this pattern set)?
Not right now, I need to emotionally recover as honestly it was kind of stressful to make the tiny little block via foundation piecing. Also shot cotton might not have been the best fabric to work with for foundation piecing as it is thin and friable. I might make the rest of the blocks with batik scraps.
I think foundation piecing will be a great skill to have in my “quilting toolbelt” but for now I am happy to have made just one!
My friend and quilter mentor Betty Anne taught me to appreciate fabric scraps, especially coordinated fabrics scraps shared from other quilters’ projects.
Like her I have gathered a collection of coordinated fabric scraps donated by quilting friends such as herself, my original quilting mentor Judy, my quilting sister Barb or my friend Susan.
Each collection of scraps is organized in a plastic bag, which I call a “challenge bag“. Each bag is a challenge to create something from a fabric scrap collection otherwise destined for the trash.
I had these challenge bags stored in two storage containers:
I decided to move them into a large basket in my studio where I could see them all the time and be reminded of the fun challenges to work on:
While going through the challenge bags to move them from the storage containers to the open basket, I figured it was time to work on one of them.
My friend Susan gave me a collection of brown batik scraps and partial fat quarters that she had started making little wallets out of – she also gave me the pattern and the templates she had cut. I think she thought I would just use the fabrics/scraps as part of a scrappy quilt. Instead I used nearly all the fabric/scraps she gave me to make a collection of little wallets:
I am looking forward in the future playing with another “challenge bag”. We’ll see what I make next…
Yesterday I hiked Pilot Butte (miniature mountain with 360 degree views of Central Oregon and surrounding region) and nearing the summit I took a photo of a controlled burn off in the distance. The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service has to do controlled burns in the Deschutes National Forest to control forest fires.
I used the zoom on my iPhone and although it is not the clearest photo it gives you a sense of the scope of the controlled burn:
If you are new to my blog and wanted to read more about my Pilot Butte adventures, check out this link: Pilot Butte Adventures.
For those of you who have followed me for a while – yes, on my hike yesterday, another Senior Citizen dusted me on Pilot Butte. At least the 80+ year old (maybe even 90) was kind enough to wish me a “good day” as he effortlessly walked around me on the hike back down the Butte!
Saturday I hung out with my friend Betty Anne and we had a “Pinwheel Piecing Party” in her home studio.
Betty Anne is one of my quilting mentors who introduced me to the magical world of fabric scraps and using them to create intuitively pieced improvisational quilts. She also introduced me to rescuing discarded blocks and bits and piecing from other quilters’ projects.
Betty Anne has a lovely improvisational quilt hanging in her home that she made from bits and pieces left over from other projects, scraps (hers and other quilters) and recycled blocks (there are cream and orange 4-patchs that are recycled blocks/scraps from a quilt I made 12 years ago and had in my scraps stash that she adopted!):
I fell completely in love with the pinwheels sprinkled through this improvisational quilt and wanted to make some.
But let me back up…
Betty Anne and I had not had a chance to get together for a “Sew Day” in a long time. I was so excited have a “Sew Saturday” at her home studio (she sets up a sewing machine for me) and I did not arrive to her house empty handed:
A package of scraps? Not just any scraps – a package of trimmed triangles from other quilters’ projects (some friends of mine sent me a package when I told them Betty Anne pieces small triangles into 1.5 inch blocks – no scrap left behind!).
Within the first house of our Sew Day she had pieced many of the scrap triangles into pinwheels!
For my Sew Day project, Betty Anne handed me a bag of Moda triangle scraps that she had already pieced into 1.5 inch blocks, so I could make them into pinwheel blocks.
Sitting on the floor, I laid them out on the rug to play with:
I turned them into a Pile-o-Pinwheels!
They are kind of addicting to make and I have more in the works:
No, I do not know what I am going to do with all those pinwheels but I will have them available for when the design for the piece they would be perfect for appears in my mind!
Betty Anne is friends with the lovely Innkeeper, Elizabeth, at the Crooked River Inn, a wonderful Bed & Breakfast and we stopped by for a tour on Saturday.
The Innkeeper, who just opened the Inn earlier this year, did an incredible remodel of an early 20th century farmhouse. The property and the house are amazing. She has chickens and serves her guests farm fresh eggs.
Also she bakes fresh cookies everyday. While we stopped by, even though she did not currently have guests, she was baking cookies! She was making several batches of cookies for the gentlemen tending to her yard maintenance!
And yes, she let me sample a cookie!
If you happen to be visiting Central Oregon, a recommend a stay at this incredible Bed & Breakfast.
As I shared in previous posts, a month or so ago I was in the midst of a creative block. I first picked up English Paper Piecing and then revisited traditional quilt piecing to get myself creating again.
Before I got to this point however, I was trying to figure out a way, short of forcing myself to sew something, that I could “get my creative energies flowing”. On a whim I decided to reorganize my fabric scraps.
I first shared my fabric scrap organization in the 01/01/2016 post Inside the Studio. My fabric scraps were organized by individual color – Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Cream, Black/Gray/Black & White, Brown, and Yellow. Each color had its own bucket.
Reorganizing my fabric scraps I decided to group colors together that sometimes I have trouble telling apart and to make it easier to work with by having less individual buckets.
As you can see by the photo above, the new groupings are:
Orange & Brown
Black, Gray, and Black & White
Red & Purple
Blue & Green (interestingly this was my largest group of scraps)
White, Cream and Yellow
While I was regrouping the scraps, I got to revisit my fabric scraps and I could feel creative energies start to percolate!
Interestingly, one of the books from my latest library stack (The Library (Mega) Stack) – Living the Creative Lifeby Rice Freeman-Zachary – addresses creative block. The author interviewed a group of artists for this book and their wisdom and experiences are peppered throughout this inspiring read.
One of the artists the author interviewed, Bean Gilsdorf, an art quilter out of Portland, Oregon (www.beangildorf.com), shares the following tip for dealing with creative block:
When it starts to stress me out that I’m not doing anything in my studio, I try to make myself do something to get my hands busy again. The ideas will come back eventually…Clean out your files, rearrange your paints, or clean everything so that when you’re ready, everything is in order. – Bean Gilsdorf
I read this book after I reorganized my scraps, but this book reinforced that I was headed in the right direction!
I am currently listening to a wonderful nonfiction audiobook – Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. In this book the authors discuss “Gravity Problems” and how we get mired in “Gravity Problems”.
What are “gravity problems”? They are problems that are not actionable to resolve.
The authors share a great example (paraphrased):
A friend asks you what is wrong. You reply “I am having a hard time in life, I just cannot make it up hills as easily as I want to due to this thing called gravity. If I just did not have gravity in my life pulling me down, I would be fine and I could run up any hill I want”.
The authors humorously share that unless you are able to change how the earth spins on its axis and its rotation around the sun, you are not going to be able to resolve your “gravity problem”.
Now perhaps the real problem is you are not at your ideal fitness level and/or you need to improve your cardiovascular health, so you can more easily climb up a hill. That is an actionable problem.
Here is a wonderful quote from the book that I will leave you to ponder:
If it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem. It’s a situation, a circumstance, a fact of life. It may be a drag (so to speak), but, like gravity, it’s not a problem that can be solved. – Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Every so often I like to re-post something from the tierneycreates archives. Here is a post from October 2015. As an update to this post – it appears the fabrics scraps I bagged up for donation sold immediately at the Humane Society thrift shop. It seems my part of the country is infested with fabric scrap obsessed crafters!
If you have followed my blog for awhile, then you know about my addiction to fabric scraps. This addiction seems to be incompatible with my desire to downsize and minimize my possessions.
The fabric scrap addiction began innocently enough – friends would give me their fabric scraps at quilting retreats. I would go for a “sew day” at a fellow quilter’s house and leave with some of her fabric scraps. As if that was not enough, I began to actually BUY scraps.
Yes, BUY FABRIC SCRAPS, you read correctly. There is a wonderful quilt shop in Central Oregon called The Stitchin’ Post and occasionally they would sell scraps bags of their beautiful high-end quilting fabrics. I bought numerous bags from them.
Beautiful scraps or not, still I was buying fabric scraps.
In my post “Creative Inspiration: Organization???” I shared my new organization of my favorite fabric scraps by color. Although I had organized scraps by color I still had a GIANT box of remaining fabric scraps.
I knew I had to do something. I needed to let go of the fabric scraps I did not completely and absolutely love. However, I did not want to throw them away or try to convince another quilter to adopt them.
So I packaged them up into 30 bags and organized them into two baskets and DONATED them to our local Humane Society Thrift Store to sell! (How do I know that the Humane Society Thrift Store sells fabric scraps? Do you want to take a guess? Yes, because I have bought fabric scraps also from several thrift stores include the Humane Society Thrift Store in the past).
The Humane Society Thrift Store Volunteer accepting my donation seemed pleased that I had packaged them up for sale. I like to imagine if they sell each bag for a couple dollars or more each that could be over $90 – $150+ profit for a wonderful local animal shelter! Some of the bags are packaged by color and some are random – so many options for the Humane Society Thrift Shops’ customers!
When I buy fabric from quilt shops in the future, it will be actual whole fabric (fat quarters or yardage). I still have plenty of fabric scraps and my fabric scrap collection contains only scraps I truly love and plan to use…eventually.
I am still working through the lessons from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo that I discussed in the post “The Space in Which We Live“.
I am feeling pleased as there is something on the design wall to talk about.
In my 09/23/2016 post, The Library Stack (and a little EPP), I mentioned that I was feeling a little stuck and had not done any creating lately (“tierneycreates” without the “creates” part…).
Well Monday I was feeling inspired and continued working on the piece I first shared in my post Make Do Quilt Challenge. Continuing my ongoing series: What’s on the Design Wall, I present where I am at on my piece, tentatively titled: Making-Do:
It’s not the best photo as I took it with low light. It is also still very much “in progress”.
I was feeling frustrated it at one point, not knowing where it was going. Then I remembered something one of my mentors, Jean Wells Keenan, said during one of her classes (paraphrased): – Even though you may not be happy with an art quilt and want to give up, you have to keep on pushing through and see where it takes you.
This is very true. The collaborative piece, Abandoned Water Structure, that was recently purchased by the City of Seattle (see post Seattle Public Utilities’ Portable Works Collection) was an art quilt that I actually gave up on and tossed aside. I later picked it back up and kept working on it starting with a late night marathon design and piecing session.
So I am hoping Making-Do turns out to be something interesting! Next time I share an update, I might even take a better photo…
Monday I went for another hike up Pilot Butte (see my Category “Pilot Butte Adventures” for previous posts on my adventures) and I started laughing as soon as I arrived at the start. They had this sign posted:
If you remember my post Monday, Again, my current time up Pilot Butte is not as good as the time for the record in the ages 95 & up category! So no I am not entering this year’s challenge…perhaps next year…
While walking up Pilot Butte, I took this panoramic photo of Bend Oregon and the surrounding area. If you are ever in Central Oregon, driving or hiking to the top of Pilot Butte for the 360 degree view of Central Oregon is a must!
I hope you do not mind that I frequently link to previous posts. I consider my blog an ongoing conversation.
My next post was going to be about the cool projects other quilters were working on at the retreat (tuffets!) I attended last weekend. However, I do not want to lose the momentum from the project discussed in my Thursday 08/11/16 post –What’s on the Design Wall (Need Your Help).
I so appreciate all the enthusiastic responses, votes, and ideas. I have to tell those of you who commented: You made a MESS of my studio (smile)!
You should have seen my little studio – various fabrics pulled out from my stash in many different colors, from your suggestions, strewn about everywhere. It was like a tornado of fabric options had blown through.
Reading all the comments was very fun – it was like you all were crammed into my tiny studio (where would I fit you all?!??!) and we were looking through my stash together and throwing around ideas (and fabric).
Of course, I would have to plan a snack and beverage for all my studio guests crammed into the tiny room…but where would I set out the plates and cups? (Maybe I could go scavenge some more fruit from my neighborhood to serve as snacks…but that is an upcoming post: Fruits of My Neighborhood Part III!)
This project began with a bag of colorful Batik scraps (that I embarrassinglyactually purchased…in a moment of weakness from the Stitchin’ Postquilt shop’s basket of scrap bags for sale..that shop is loaded with temptation!)
I turned many of those scraps into 24 6′ x 6″ blocks:
I presented four (4) options for the layout on the blocks and here are the votes by Option:
OPTION 1A – Float the blocks individually in a neutral background: 2 Votes
OPTION 1B – Group the blocks together and then float the whole grouping in a neutral background: 0 Votes
OPTION 2A – Float the blocks individually in a gray background: 4 Votes
OPTION 2B – Group the blocks together and then float the whole grouping in a gray background: 2 Votes
In addition to voting on options I presented, many of you in your comments suggested different options(I hope I captured the essence of all the comments to date, my apologies if I left a summary of your comment out below):
Group them together on a neutral background not trying to make them perfectly square, use Misty Fuse to attach them
Stitch the blocks together, use a pieced binding to enclose them, they speak so well on their own!
Group them together on the grey but make sure all blue sides are facing opposite of the grey fabric and placed up against another block rather than up against the grey fabric not allowing a blue side to but up against another blue.
Float each block individually, with a PURPLE or RED background- keep the color going! And maybe put a yellowsquare at each “intersection”
Golden brown would be nice also (to float blocks).
I agree with some others are dark brown, plum, dark red, I’d be inclined to try them on different ones and see which calls loudest.I start to wonder if it’s be even better on the dark brown.
I think a chocolate brown would be so cool.
I would make more blocks, group them without sashing or a border, and bind with a pieced binding (NOTE: I did make more blocks, see below!)
If you do want separation, don’t set them straight, in rows and columns. Use your separator in more random sizing — perhaps framing each one with the same fabric but in wonky widths. It might be easiest to pull off with a fabric that has some pattern so the seams between newly framed blocks disappear a bit.
If you really want to set them apart on a different background, what about looking at either a gold dupionior a deep purple dupioni?
(from a text to my phone, not posted to the blog) What came to mind was floating blocks in a round of neutral logs then a round of gray logs – maybe alternate with the reverse – round of gray first then neutral – then you float and have blocks side by side – and I’m thinking of a neutral acid yellow or lime greenor maybe an acid yellow orange – a crisp bright marigold color – all would look good with the blocks and gray.
Option Z: I love love love the blocks, but am partial to flashy colorsmounted on a white background. I also like sashing between the blocks because it makes each one pop.
While I like both versions of placing all the blocks together and placing with sashing, I would need to try the sashing version using a variety of sizes and different shades of either the light or the grey.
One fellow blogger, Melanie @ Catbird Quilt Studio was kind enough to e-mail me a photo of one of her lovely scrappy log cabin quilts, “Broken Pains” as an example of a layout she used:
In addition to showing you the scraps I started with, in the previous post I shared the pile of scraps I had left over from trimming the original set of blocks down to a 6″ x 6″ size:
In the evening on Friday and Saturday, I turned the trimmings from those scraps and some of the remaining scraps into 23 more 6″ x 6″ blocks:
I now have scraps left over from trimming the latest blocks and the remaining original scraps that started it all…and yes, I am going to make more blocks out of them! (Besides 47, 24 + 23, is an usual odd number of blocks. )
I tried out many of your color suggestions. To save time, I had a “pocket full of scrappy blocks” as I experimented. I never imagined walking around my house with a pocket full of quilt blocks!
Now, try and use your imagination as you look at my experiments. Although I tried to put strong lighting on the design wall, if you have been following my blog for a while, you know I am not the best photographer (if I tried to make photography a career I would be very hungry).
I provide two layouts on each test background fabric: 1) floated and 2) grouped together with a border.
More disclaimers (soon you will be frightened to even scroll down and look…): I did not iron the fabric I used as the test background and I randomly selected the blocks to go onto the test fabric. (If this were a real quilt layout, I would have given more thought to the block placement and order.)
Thank you so much for all the great ideas. I also appreciated all the layout and general design ideas.
My decision is as follows:
Make more blocks, trying to use up nearly all the remaining scraps.
Do not make a quilt with these blocks, instead make a SERIES of artsy table runners for my tierneycreates Etsy shop using various combinationsand layouts of these blocks and my favorites of the backgrounds above (red, marigold, gold, purple, dark brown, and lime/acid green).
Thanks for coming with me on this color and design adventure! I will update you all as I complete the table runners!
I realized it’s time for “Tierney” to return to “creating”…
This blog is not called:
The blog is called tierneycreates, so Tierney better get to creating! (I like the imaginary sense of accountability blogging gives me – like you all will be very disappointed if my blog does not live up to its name!)
I was excited to pull these items out of the “set aside to work on later” basket (set aside for 7+ months so far!) and turn them into pillows.
So far, I started with this one:
And turned it into this little pillow which I have named Textured Desert Canyon:
Textured Desert Canyon (2016) by Tierney Davis Hogan
I was excited to use my new “tierneycreates – smiles & textiles” tags (see post Embracing Orange) for the first time on this pillow (can you see the little tag in the photo?). I had to experiment to figure out exactly how to make the tag work but I think I like the outcome.
I experimented with quilting with a solid color thread and then a variegated thread to try and give a lot of depth to the quilting.
What surprised me was the dense quilting gave the hand dyed solid scraps pieced into this pillow a suede like texture and appearance. I am eager to experiment more with dense quilting.
Now onto to working on the next four (4) pillows!
I follow many wonderful blogs and recently one of the blogs I follow, Catbird Quilt Studio has begun an interesting series on The Future of Quilting.
Here are links below to the two enjoyable posts in this series so far:
Continuing my series on What’s on the Design Wall: Projects in Progress…
Terry the Quilting Husband, fresh from his sale of two of his quilts during the 2016 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, is eagerly working on a new piece (maybe for the 2017 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show?).
Terry is using our new temporary “giant design wall” that I discuss in the post Whole House Crafting. Until we get the interior walls of our house repainted (someday) we are just using a package of Warm & Natural batting on one of our hallway walls. A future house project is to build a nice large design wall on this side of the one hallway in our little home.
Terry likes to work from parameters I start him off with and he does not like quilt patterns of any kind. I tried to help him learn how to follow quilt patterns, but he strongly prefers to work intuitively.
I had a stack of 2.5 inch strips from an old kit (for a very ugly table runner) that I was never going to make. After sewing sections of the strips together, he is going to inset denim between them some how. All his concept – I only gave him the strips.
Here is my stash of recycle denim he is looking through to complete his design:
Once upon a time there was a quilter who was also married to a quilter. The quilter and her husband-the-quilter decided to each put five (5) quilts into the 2016 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, for a total of ten (10) quilts. They finished their 10 quilts and had them all back from the magical long-arm quilter by April 2016. The quilts needed to be labeled and ready for the show by June 24, 2016.
The quilter and her husband knew they had plenty of time to get those labels on the quilts…
I think this tale will have a happy ending, but right now I am in the “moral lesson” part of the tale. Like in the “Ant and the Grasshopper ” from Aesop’s Fables (the ant spent the summer planning for winter and the grasshopper spent the summer goofing off and we know how that ended…).
We have a stack of 10 quilts needing labels (see photo above!) and Terry the Quilting Husband does not hand sew (he actually hates needles and has no desire to hand stitch anything). So I need to get all the labels on by 06/23/16 to deliver the quilts on 06/24/16 to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Office.
“P” is not just for Procrastination. “P” is for PANIC.
There is song from the 1980s by a British heavy metal rock band Judas Priest titled “Breaking the Law” where in the song, they repeatedly sing the chorus: “Breaking the law, breaking the law, breaking the law, breaking the law.”
When I lived in Seattle my friend Michele and I would enjoy singing choruses of this very campy 1980s song under our breath or at the top of lungs when we were not following standard rules of behavior or etiquette, etc.
This song was played my head when I made the decision to do a traditional quilt binding instead of a “facing”on the back of my art quilt Recycled Doors for the upcoming Central Oregon SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Art Quilt Associates) exhibit at the 2016 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Please see my post Update: Recycled Door for more information on this piece.
(If you are unfamiliar with “facing a quilt”, here is a link to the Quilting Daily’s page on Finishing a Quilt with a Facing. Facing creates clean edges to the quilt with no edge binding.)
Facing the back of an art quilt to create a smooth edge appears to be the expected and acceptable standard and is what I have always done in the past on any quilt I want to be classified as an “art quilt”.
I feel feeling very rebellious after talking to my friend Wendy who suggested, as an option to finishing the quilt, a binding to bring out the orange in the center of the piece. I was reading to do some “law breaking” and did a traditional binding instead of facing the quilt.
It felt good to be a rebel, ha!
Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. – Albert Camus
You may notice my new blog template – quite different from the previous one. I really enjoyed the Chalkboard Template, but after reading that article on making blog pages easy for all readers to read and the feedback you all provided, I am going to try this new format for a while.
Today a thought popped into my head: “tierneycreates is a quilter’s blog, perhaps I should post something about quilting!”
The Original Plan
I completed the binding on a “log jam” (free form log cabin block piecing) quilt I am putting the in the July 2016 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS) called Modern Bedtime.
It measures 63″ x 72″ which is short of a Twin size quilt and more like a large Lap size quilt.
This quilt was meant to be a King size quilt. I originally made its dimensions 98″ x 100″. I worked within the limit of the dimensions of acceptable quilts for entry into the SOQS (a maximum of 104″ on any side).
Last year the quilt I sold at the 2015 SOQS was a large Queen size quilt and I thought I would have a better chance of selling another quilt in the show this year if it were also bed size. I thought: “Maybe there won’t be a lot of large Queen/King size quilts in the show; so if someone attending the show was looking for a large bed size quilt my quilt would be available for consideration!”
Below is a photo of how the quilt started out. The original design had the log jam pieced center floating in a large khaki border. It is draped over a King size bed and you can see there is a nice drape (which I trimmed down to meet the less than 104″ on each side limit for SOQS).
The Universe however did not want this quilt to be King size (or Queen size, or Full size, or Twin size…).
Something very bad occurred when I pieced the border, I am not sure what exactly as I have been piecing/sewing borders on quilts for many years.
The long-arm quilter discovered that the borders where extremely uneven when she loaded it on her professional quilting machine. Not just uneven, they were “majorly wonky”! She tried to fix it but the borders were so strangely pieced she could not fix it without disassembling a large amount of the quilt.
Additionally, there were several other strange and embarrassing quilt piecing errors (I am too embarrassed to mention these).
What the heck happened? I do not make mistakes like this! I do remember that I was in a hurry to finish up the quilt to get it to her to put it in her queue of customer quilts for the SOQS (she gets very backlogged with customer quilts prior to the SOQS). I was always working long hours on a challenging work project and very tired at the end of the workday.
Perhaps I should not have engaged in “Piecing While Tired” (PWT).
I had a painful phone conversation with the very kind and patient long-arm quilter as we tried to figure out what could be done about this quilt. She had tried removing one of my borders and trying to fix it for me. I kept thinking: “I am so disappointed in myself, I so wanted to sell this quilt at SOQS as a King size quilt”. I wanted so badly for this quilt to work out as I had planned.
Then suddenly I decided to just let it go. I asked the long-arm quilter to just cut off the offending borders and finish quilting the quilt.
I trimmed off the left over borders, put on the binding and have embraced the quilt as it. I am still showing it/listing it for sale at the SOQS.
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go – Rumi
Warning: Never work on a quilt while tired and stressed from work! Lesson learned!
I am working on something exciting right now but it is a secret. It is a piece for an invitation only special juried exhibit. More to come!
Congratulations to Beth T. who won the free copy of Creative Quilt Challenges from the random drawing of names from those who left comments on my Creative Quilt Challenges Blog Tour post – BLOG TOUR DAY 4: Unlikely Materials. Thank you to every who visited the tierneycreates blog for Day 4 of the tour and thank you to those who commented. I so enjoyed reading the comments and they got me inspired to keep experimenting with “unlikely materials”!
What’s on the…Table: “Ohio”
This post is a continuation of my ongoing series: What’s on the Design Wall.
However, this time I am going to share what is laid out on the table in my Studio, instead of up on my Design Wall. This post also demonstrates another example of using “Unlikely Materials” (recycled silk garment scraps) discussed in my Blog Tour post on 03/31/16.
Here is the piece in progress, I am going to name it “Ohio“:
What do a bunch of miniature log cabin style patches (2″x2″ and 2.5″ x 2.5″) have to do with the State of Ohio? Absolutely nothing, but they are part of a story. An ongoing story. Here is a visual summary of that story:
1) The piece started out as my attempt to create an Ohio Star (a traditional quilt block) from recycled silk
2) I was very unhappy with the accuracy of the points on the star (although I interfaced the back of the silks, I had some challenges with accurately piecing the points). So I attempted to save the piece by reimagining the piece, slicing up the Ohio Star and sewing it into a new configuration. I was still not pleased with it.
3) I gave the piece and the coordinated recycled silk pieces I have selected to a friend. She reimagined it into a completely new piece, while integrating all the elements from the original Ohio Star into the piece.
4) My friend gave me the leftover scraps from this piece which included scraps from my original piecing and new scraps from additional recycled silks she used in the piece. She challenged me to make something from those scraps!
5) So, I started working on this piece over a month ago, and I am calling it “Ohio”
Right now I am just continuing to make tiny blocks (2″ x 2″ and 2.5″ x 2.5″) and enjoying the challenging of using up small pieces of recycled silk. I find it to be meditative to quietly work on small slow piecing.
Will post about this piece again when it is nearly complete.
At the end of this post I will pose a discussion question, please post a comment to automatically enter a drawing for a copy of Creative Quilt Challenges. The random winner will be selected and notified around 04/07/16.
CHALLENGE #3 – UNLIKELY MATERIALS
In Creative Challenges, Pat Pease and Wendy Hill invite readers to flex their quilt-making creative muscles by experimenting with different “Challenges”. In Challenge #3 – Unlikely Materials, Pat and Wendy invite readers to stretch their creative muscles by working with materials other than traditional quilting cottons!
Transitioning from Cotton Material to “Unlikely Materials”
Four years ago, I would have looked at you as if you were insane if you suggested I use anything other than high quality quilting cottons, purchased from a quilt shop, for my quilt-making. Then in 2012 my friend and mentor, Betty Anne Guadalupe of Guadalupe Designs invited me to work on a collaborative project involving making art quilts out of recycled silks and linen samples from garment manufacturing. These samples had been saved from the trash heap by someone working for an Italian silk manufacturer in the 1990s and stored away since then.
At first I was terrified of working with anything but cotton for quilting. Cotton is so crisp and stable. Silk is slippery, delicate, and…well…terrifying!
One of the first skills I learned when working with silk was how to back delicate silks with interfacing. The best interfacing I have used for backing silk is “French-Fuse“. I learned about French-Fuse from Betty Anne, who learned about it from another art quilter, Grace. This interfacing provides much needed stability to delicate silks and makes them easier to rotary cut and to piece.
Here is one of the early pieces I made with recycled silks – Silk Landscape:
The Wardrobe Meets the Wall
Betty Anne and I both became hooked on using the recycled silks and linens to create art quilts. We formed a collaboration which eventually became The Wardrobe Meets the Wall: A collection of art quilts created from recycled garments, manufacturing remnants, and samples.
We have a blog, The Wardrobe Meets the Wall (we are working on evolving this into a a website, “Art Quilts by Guadalupe & Hogan”). See our page The Collection if you would like to see a samples of art quilts all made with “Unlikely Materials”.
Our collection includes quilts made from mens ties, recycled silk and linen samples, scrap wool from clothing or blanket manufacturing, recycled denim, and general recycled clothing.
Once You Start Experimenting with Unlikely Materials, You Might Get Hooked!
Betty Anne already had many years experience working with “Unlikely Materials” and before I knew it, she had me experimenting with using recycled wools and denims to create art quilts.
Here is my first experiment with working with recycled wools (from wool mens suiting manufacturing scraps and wool blanket manufacturing scraps) and denims (recycled jeans) – He Dresses Up, He Dresses Down:
Basically – if you can sew with it, we will now try and make an art quilt with it. There are so many unlikely materials we have yet to try out. We enjoy recycling.
I was intrigued that in the Creative Quilt Challenge book, Pat Pease makes an adventurous art quilt with “hair canvas interfacing“. I bow my head to that level of creativity with “unlikely materials”!
(Disclaimer: We still love and support our local quilt shops and still make many quilts with traditional cottons. There are so many beautiful fabric collections to choose from and our new fabric stashes mysteriously continue to grow despite our obsession with recycled materials.)
Tips for Working with Unlikely Materials
I will not deny it – working with “unlikely materials” for the first time is scary. Here are some tips I have learned over the past 4 years. I am still learning and growing in my knowledge and comfort with using “unlikely materials”.
Do not be afraid to experiment and play: You do not have to create a great work of quilting art your first time working with a new “unlikely material”. I played with silk for a while before piecing it into an art quilt.
Check your sewing machine manufacturer’s website for tips on working with various materials and fibers.
Search for YouTube videos on working with a particular fabric and sewing tips on handling that type of fabric in your machine.
Network with other crafters that have experience working with a particular textile you are interested in trying. For example if you know a seamstress who has worked a lot with silk, you could ask her/him for tips.
Determine if a fabric/material needs to be interfaced in order to stabilize it for sewing. As I mentioned earlier, French-Fuse (which can be purchased at sites such as Annie’s Craft Store) is wonderful for backing delicate silks. It makes them so much easier to cut and piece. There are also YouTube videos on using French-Fuse.
If you are using heavy weight materials such as denim and some wools, consider pressing open your seams, and using 1/2 inch seams (like in making garments) as opposed to 1/4 inch seams. A trick that my mentor Betty Anne taught me is to run a tiny (1/8″ inch or less) seam along the front of the seams (front of your piece) to hold down the pressed down seams. This will be helpful if you have your piece professionally long-arm quilted so that the thick seams do not flip and catch the needle when being quilted.
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up! I have had several “unlikely materials” piecing/sewing disasters (bad words were said, not suitable for repeating). Some disasters were so bad I had to put them in the trash, I could not even recycle them into another project. Speaking of recycling a disaster into another project, see the post A Very Successful Rescue! about a piece made with recycled silk that was destined for the trash but was recycled by another quilter into a wonderful piece!
Warning – your other quilter friends who only enjoy using cottons, may at first give you a lukewarm response on your pieces made with “unlikely materials”. Do not be discouraged – art is a private and personal thing and you cannot control others reactions. (I love the saying: “It’s not my business what others think of me”…or my art!). I am sure I have quilter friends who thought at first I had lost my mind working with recycled silks and linens. As you grow in your experience with working with “unlikely materials”, your confidence will grow as will your adventurous spirit.
Working on My Latest Piece with Unlikely Materials
The timing of this blog tour post is great, as I am currently working on a new piece for a group exhibit I am participating in, called “Doors” for the local SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) group I belong.
Designing the piece: Selecting the “Unlikely Materials”
I decided to use a photo of a door for inspiration, and located a wonderful collection of unique door photos on an Australian door and window manufacturer’s website Brisbane Timber .
I wanted to created a semi-realistic version of one of their doors, using recycled textiles (“unlikely materials”) and name the piece Recycled Door.
Here are the materials I selected:
Recycled Corduroy Shirt
Recycled Corduroy Pants
Recycled Tweed Wool Jumper
Bag of Recycled Jeans
Shiny Gold Home Decor Fabric
(List clockwise from top)
Recycled Corduroy Shirt
Recycled Corduroy Pants
Recycled Tweed Jumper
Unusual shiny gold home decor fabric (this fabric was given to me by the very talented art quilter, Dianne Browning, who primarily uses the unlikely materials of home decor fabrics and decorator samples in her art – you can check out her incredible art at her website Art Quilts by Dianne Browning)
Recycled Denim (from my bag of recycled jean sections)
The Piece in Progress
Below is a photo of Recycled Door in progress. If you like, for fun, you can go to the Australian door and window manufacturer’s website Brisbane Timber and see if you can figure out which door inspired this piece.
Are You Ready to Experiment or Have You Already Experimented?
Now it is time for you to weigh in on your experience with using “Unlikely Materials” or whether you are interested in experimenting with “Unlikely Materials” in the future in your quilting projects.